Adam Curtis, the documentary film-maker responsible for eye-opening works such as Century of the Self, and HyperNormalisation, recently sent an open letter to The Guardian addressing how the world’s best social commentary comes from the “true genius” of South Park.
Curtis began the letter addressing how the ‘best documentary reporting’ happens in the likes of The Big Short, American Honey, and This Is England. However, over the last few weeks, “South Park has poignantly been tackling the US election, calling out the mistakes of both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton while offering commentary on internet trolls, nostalgia, and a certain New York Times review of Ghostbusters.”
Adam Curtis on the genius of South Park:
Every week they report on the world in a really original way. Their recent shows have been all about social media and internet trolling – and it is just wonderful. They make you realise how strange and absurd that world is. But the show I would nominate is the three-parter they did called Imaginationland. It is about how terrorists take over all of our imaginations – and then our imaginations run out of control with dark horror. So the US government decide to nuke our imaginations. But Kyle from South Park confronts the government and makes an epic speech about how what we imagine inside our heads is more real, and has had more effect on the world throughout history than us as just physical beings.
The whole story is a wonderful attack on the narrow rational utilitarianism of our age that both left and right have bought into. It’s saying: you can make the world anything you want it to be. At its heart, South Park has a touching faith in human beings. That despite their absurdities and flaws, people have the capacity to create a better world. In our conservative times that is the most radical message of all.
One of the reasons South Park is that, unlike the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Rugrats, The Flintstones, or basically any other cartoon, Parker and Stone don’t start writing or drawing episodes until just a week before they’re broadcast.
Unfortunately, last week the South Park team ran into a bit of an issue while tackling the results of the presidential election. Stone and Parker accidentally believed Hilary Clinton would be crowned the next President of the United States, and when Donald Trump was announced as President-elect, they had to re-write the entire episode.
H/T The Independent